Digital News Report – I am proud to say that in 2009, during the worst economic climate in decades, my legislation created jobs and streamlined state government without sacrificing delivery of state services. The passage of SB 2X 15 the New Home Buyer Tax Credit measure and SB 519 the CHP’s Retiree Health Care Agreement and Survivor Benefit’s bill, shows what can be accomplished if we focus on agreements which will deliver the maximum long range benefits to Californians.
SB 2X 15- a $10,000 tax credit for new homebuyers was the most successful jobs bill that the legislature produced this year. It provided the incentive to bring thousands of potential homebuyers back into the market in California. Since February 2009, the new homebuyer tax credit has been responsible for the creation of 20,000 new and permanent jobs in California, according to the California Building Industry Association. The bonus for California is that the program has already produced over $120 million in state and local tax revenues. The benefits to local and state treasuries will be long term, as more homes are purchased and built, raising property values and putting more Californians back to work.
The only unfortunate part of SB 2X 15 was that it was a short-term bill and it expired this year. In 2010, a new version of this bill will be introduced and I will work hard to make sure that it passes so that California continues on the road to economic recovery.
SB 519 is a measure that contains an agreement between the Governor’s administration and the California Highway Patrol for the CHP to set up a self-paid health benefits savings plan for use in retirement. It also preserves Survivor Benefits for widows and orphans. Since 1961, the state has funded retiree health benefits on a “pay as you go” basis without investing money ahead of time to pay future costs. The State currently owes over $48 billion in unfunded retiree health benefits and estimates are this figure will grow to over $71 billion in the next ten years.
Under the terms of the agreement, the CHP will forgo pay raises over the next two years, and take an additional pay cut and redirect those funds to save for their own retiree health benefits. The State will begin to match their contributions in 2012, resulting in huge future savings. It is hoped that this model will be followed by the other public employee unions, saving California billions of dollars down the road.
SB 519 also prevented the 1959 Survivor Benefit from expiring in January 2010. This benefit has provided a safety net for 50 years for the families of public employees like CHP officers, firefighters, peace officers, and school employees who die unexpectedly in their prime earning years. This is critical since these individuals do not have Social Security coverage for their surviving dependent children and spouses. The elimination of this benefit would have hurt these survivors significantly, and it costs the State much less than paying into Social Security on their behalf.
Rest assured that in 2010 I will work even harder to create more jobs and to control wasteful government spending. My legislative package for 2010, which I am developing now, will demonstrate strict adherence to these principles. I will also be submitting legislation to address specific needs within my district. If there is legislation you feel should be implemented, I would like to hear from you. There is still time to incorporate your suggestions for ways to improve state government or solve a pressing local issue, into the coming year’s legislation bundle.